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Secret of Success: Pacific Optics
Marshall Hall | August 19, 2020
Tucked away in the back streets of Burleigh Heads sits the headquarters of a company that has touched the lives of almost every Australian.
Most people would have never heard of Pacific Optics but every Australian has seen or bought their products.
Pacific Optics was started 26 years ago as a wholesaler of sunglasses. The company’s founder, Chris Bissiotis, saw a gap in the market supplying sunglasses to service stations and started as a small family business with just two sales representatives.
Just a year later, in 1995, the company secured trading relationships with convenience store chain 7 Eleven, petrol station chain Mobil and car parts store Super Cheap Auto. The company has grown ever since.
Now backed by two large venture capital companies, Pacific Optics now sells more than 10,000 different products and has 130 employees including 50 sales representatives spread throughout the nation. The company has warehouses at Yatala in Queensland, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth.
The company now has a sister operation in New Zealand. The New Zealand arm was only established five years ago but it is already growing strongly.
Pacific Optics Managing Director Martin Best says the company sells mainly through three channels: Retail and Convenience; Lifestyle; and Tourism/Gifts.
The Retail and Convenience channel includes more than 6000 service stations throughout Australia, all of which sell products from Pacific Optics’ incredible range of goods.
“We are very fortunate to have strong long-term supply relationships all the major service station operators,” says Best.
“We supply almost everything sold in a service stations except for the automotive supplies and the food and drink.”
The company’s range of products still includes sunglasses. It now also includes clothing, headwear, toys, mobile phone accessories, phone cards, footwear, convenience products such as umbrellas, entertainment products such as music CDs and promotional products.
Many of the products the company sells come from world-class suppliers. For example, its range of toys are supplied by household names such as Mattel, Disney and Hasbro.
But it’s not what the company sells that is the most impressive part of the business. Instead it’s the way the company does it. The Australasian Association of Convenience Stores has named Pacific Optics as the industry’s Supplier of the Year – Grocery and General Merchandise for the past 12 consecutive years.
Best says the company is committed to superior customer service.
“We have good operations, great people and strong IT solutions,’’ he says. “We are always looking to improve the way we do business.”
For example, the company upgraded its Enterprise Resource Planning system in 2019 and has not looked back.
But Best says the secret to the company’s success is simple. The company values the relationships it has with customers.
“Business is about relationships and we are fortunate to have strong ongoing relationships at corporate levels and at the store level,’’ he says. “Our employees are great at building and supporting strong relationships with our customers.”
Best says the company’s diverse product range meant the company remained buoyant during COVID-19. While its tourism products suffered a decline in sales, this was offset by in increase in sales from its technology and phone accessory products.
Best says his aims for the future of the business is to continue with the diversification of its products and diversifying the channels into which it sells. This include further expansion into the pharmacy the education sectors.
And while the company has significant growth ambitions, Pacific Optics is committed to staying put on the Gold Coast.
“Having our headquarters on the Gold Coast means our staff are able to have the quality of lifestyle that cannot be experienced in Sydney and Melbourne,’’ says Best.